Former astronauts pan Obama's proposal for NASA space program
In an open letter, 21 former astronauts and six others say Obama is ‘throwing away’ America’s dominance in human spaceflight. The president has outlined major changes to the NASA space program.
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
Some of NASA’s most accomplished astronauts, including four of the 12 who’ve walked on the moon, are accusing President Obama of reducing America’s space program “to mediocrity” by scrapping plans for further lunar exploration.Skip to next paragraph
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In a searing open letter coinciding with Mr. Obama’s visit to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center this week, veterans of the Apollo, Mercury, Gemini, and space shuttle programs say the president is “throwing away” America’s dominance in human spaceflight after “50 years of unparalleled achievement.”
Moonwalkers Alan Bean, Charlie Duke, Harrison Schmitt, and Eugene Cernan, the last man on the lunar surface in 1972, joined other NASA luminaries in the attack – including Apollo 13 astronauts Jim Lovell and Fred Haise, Apollo flight director Eugene Kranz, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s former chief Michael Griffin.
In all, 27 people signed the letter, including 21 former astronauts. All the signatories are retired.
“We strongly urge you to drop this misguided proposal that forces NASA out of human space operations for the foreseeable future,” they wrote in the letter, released two days before Obama will visit Cape Canaveral to explain his decision to shut down the next-generation Constellation program, which was to have taken astronauts back to the moon by 2020.
“For those of us who have accepted the risk and dedicated a portion of our lives to the exploration of outer space, this is a terrible decision,” the letter says.
The letter comes during commemorations this week for the 40th anniversary of one of NASA’s finest achievements – bringing the Apollo 13 astronauts home safely after an onboard explosion. Messrs. Haise and Lovell, the two members of the crew still alive, attended events at the Kennedy Space Center and at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago.